Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Want Some Gravy with your Trickle-Down Theory?

It's a little late for Thanksgiving now, but you might find my friend S. Ashton's article, "Talking Turkey: Would you care for some gravy with that trickle-down theory?" of interest or even useful over the Christmas holidays. The article includes a tear-off sheet of talking points for responses to pro-Bush arguments.

Given my own ignorance on issues economic, I withhold judgment on the writer's assertions in that arena.

I heartily endorse, however, the move toward taking back the terminology. I agree with bkmarcus that economic education is very important: indeed, I feel I am one needing such a thing.

But I add to his call to pedagogic arms the importance of education in the realm of language, propaganda, rhetoric. Our country has a populace completely manipulated by marketing, commercial and political. Perhaps people don't have time to read and study or follow the news in any depth, so they rely on soundbites, 30-second ads, and misleading titles to give them the information they need. In this country, the right, be it Dobson or Rove, is expert at attaching tags to ideas that spin the response of the populace. Who wouldn't think that being pro-life is a good thing? Or that the Patriot Act stands for values we all endorse?

[ADDENDUM: I should not have insinuated that bkmarcus was interested only in economic education, until I read a recent post of his that hit the blogosphere while I was away from my computer and that I only read just now. He writes quite deftly about the importance of terminology. bk is a seeker of truth: kudos to him for his consistent attempts to deflate manipulative language.]

So S. Ashton's attempts to reframe the discourse are admirable. For instance, on the topic of moral values:

Your Father-in-Law shares the fact that he's proud to be in a State with so-called "family values," unlike those Blue States full of pagans, bleeding hearts, and gays.

Words to avoid: Avoid using the phrase "gay marriage" which suggests gay sex to many people and generally gets a panicked response. Instead, ask if your Father-in-Law really thinks the Government should tell people who they can and cannot marry? Ask if he is comfortable with civil unions and civil rights. Replace "Gay Marriage" with "equal rights," be they for atheists, gays, or Blue Staters... avoid the word "tolerance" and replace it with "acceptance," a more positive and less judging term. Use the word "citizens" whenever you can to remind your relatives that we live in a nation that defines its membership in respectful and secular ways.

Read the whole article, and then imagine talking points of your own.

p.s. Look at Michael Berube's take on Focus on the Family. Good stuff there, don't you know. And forgive me: I don't know how to add accent aigu to my type in blogger.

1 comment:

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